Day 122- better days are coming

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Day 122 – Jul 17th

Some days you just can’t find anything to watch, seen it before, or just not in the mood… at least that’s what I’d like to think when I walked in from work and caught my daughter emptying the dvd drawer on to the floor! The chances are that she just took pleasure in pulling out each case and tossing it onto the floor behind her! Now if only I could teach her how to put them all back properly…

With the wife’s newly acquired bad back, it was down to me to look after the girls as much as I could tonight,which included bath time. I just needed a littl time to cool down in front of the fan, after a warm cycle home in the sunshine, before I started.

After Olivia’s full on party weekend, plus a trip to the park that morning with mommy and nanny, she was happy enough to chill out on the sofa… although the same can’t be said for Chloe who doesn’t have varying levels of energy, it’s either full on or stop!

It’s nice to relax once the girls are in bed, but this is not a week I can slow down, plenty of things to keep me busy once the girls are asleep and my time is freed up. On top of putting together a wedding album, there is a bunch of jobs that need doing in the garden. It was a warm evening and another sweat fest before bed, but we’re seeing definite progress now! As soon as it’s ready we’ll be able to order some furniture for it!

The garden should be a place for not only fun with the girls, but for rest and relaxation too. Looking at all the things that need doing and wondering where I’m ever going to find the time has not been relaxing, it has turned out to be a little bit stressful when I’ve actually put some time in, found myself busy the following weekend and then it rains the weekend after that, as I  watch everything grow back, and then end up repeating this process again several weeks later.

Positives to take from this? Firstly, I’ve managed to grow a lot of flowers from seeds, and the garden is looking very pretty, and the bees are happy. Secondly, the top of the garden that is being dug up, and has been a problem for so long, will hopefully be finished by the weekend, and after that the garden won’t need nearly as much maintainence to look good! 

Day 121 – I need to go back to work to get over the weekend!

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Day 121 – Jul 16th

Sunday meant party 2 of 2, and this time we were off to another venue that we had also been to before. It was a soft play party for one of Olivia’s nursery friends, and its always nice to see the other parents, as we don’t get much chance to speak when our paths cross so briefly as we pick up our little ones from nursery. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to take siblings with us to things like this, but with Chloe being just a toddler, no-one really noticed her anyway. The kids played lovely together, and it was great to watch them all interacting, as we don’t get to see that at nursery, obviously as soon as we turn up to take them home all interactions cease and they get excited about seeing their parents and going home instead.

After the party we had a little free time, lunch wasn’t needed as we’d been fed at the party, so it was off to the other nanny and grandads house, as the weather was nice and a walk would do us good anyway. Both sets of grandparents in one weekend isn’t bad, as neither of them are going very far at the moment, so its nice to take the girls to them. Little ones have a magical power to instantly cheer people up, that us grown ups just don’t possess!

The last time we’d gone round we left the girls little car there, so this was a chance to pick it up and walk it home. Chloe was keen to jump in, and Olivia was happy to push her, its lovely seeing them play together. Having one baby is an amazing, life changing event, but there is just something extra special about having two and then watching them interact!

With the girls finally in bed after an exhausting weekend, it was time for me to get my sweat on… with the top of the garden being renovated, there was suddenly a big pile of earth that needed removing, but as it was good quality, fertile soil that had had little growing in it, I was reluctant to just throw it away. So I spent the next hour sieving out the rocks and spreading it around the garden. I was honestly exhausted after this, who knew gardening could be so tiring?!

Day 120 – expect the unexpected

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Day 120 – Jul 15th

Party 1 of 2 for this weekend, and it would seem that our 3 year old daughter has a more active social life than us! The first party was at an adventure play centre not too far from us, some good friends of ours had booked it for the second year in a row as the kids all seem to have fun here last time, there is plenty to do, even if it rains, there’s food, face painting, things to climb and ride, and last year was a success, and so why change it if it works?

We were already having a lovely time at the party, but weren’t prepared for the surprise we got when the hosts took us to one side and asked us to be god parents to their new little baby girl, we were delighted! We would loved to have had them for Chloe’s godparents, but Clare had already insisted on siblings, and thrown into the deal we also had to have at least one catholic godparent too. Its so nice when friends consider you close enough to ask though. This particular friend was a girl I met whilst working behind a bar many years ago, one of the many bars I have worked in throughout the years, mostly throughout my 20s, but also one of the few people I have actually managed not only to stay in touch with, but also keep a very good friendship with, to the point where now we are both married and she is also great friends with my wife.

Its no secret that having kids can affect your friendships with people, and alter the dynamics of your relationships to either strengthen or break a friendship. Sometimes you will see some friendships just fade away in front of you, but the ones that don’t tend to stand the test of time. It definitely helps when your friends all start to have children too and you can suddenly hugely sympathise with each other on all the reasons you have for either being late, or not being able to turn up to certain events at all, as well as having plenty to talk about and great reasons to catch up, rather than just the previous carnage of yet another drunken night out where you didn’t even remember getting in at 3am with a takeaway wrapper in your hand. Of course, nights out are still important, but often I just don’t have the energy these days!

With todays birthday party out of the way, it left us with the rest of the afternoon free, and so we took the opportunity to visit my mother so that she could see the girls for a while, as we hadn’t seen her at all last weekend. The girls always love catching up with their grandparents, especially if it includes running around the garden, although it did mean getting home a little later than we had planned, but it was worth it!

Day 119 – A change is as good as a rest

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Day 119 – Jul 14th

Its nice to have your skills recognised, and being a photographer, when your employer asks you to take time out of your work to do head shots of staff, its quite nice to be able to do something different for a day. As I’ve said before, I never like to complain about my job, but when I am being paid for the day to take photographs instead, it makes a refreshing change. This close to the summer holidays, everyone is winding down for the end of the year now, so things are quieter in the classroom anyway.

I shot around 80 staff, but had to do it in bursts here and there, waiting for staff to find an opportunity to step out of the classroom. Sometimes there would be a queue of people waiting, other times I would be stood around waiting for people to turn up. I also had a chance to edit a few of the photos before the end of the day, so that I didn’t get roped into having to do it at home. These photos don’t benefit me financially in any way, and so I don’t want to be taking up my own time working on them.

Todays photo was one of my colleagues, a guy I have known for a long time, as he started around the same time as me, over 20 years ago. A very friendly, charismatic guy, who is just one of those people who seems to make friends with pretty much most people. I know he won’t mind me using his photo. I have over edited his image a bit, to give it a gritty, high contrast feel. Nothing like the images I will deliver to my employer, which will not look as harsh as this, but I love the way this image looks!

At least I was still able to get out of work on time, as I had no choice but to bring the car to work today with all the lights, backdrops and stands that I just could not carry on a motorbike.

Back when I passed my driving test in 1995, I was just 19 and thought I had the world at my feet with my new found independence, but recently I have actually gone from loving driving, to starting to resent it a little. Its fair to say that I have been truly spoilt with the extra freedom of a motorbike… all the joys of cycling and weaving through traffic on two wheels… but with an engine!! Now I find traffic jams simply unbearable when I am in a car, and commuting to work in the car is something I try to avoid wherever possible! So getting out of work on time was crucial, and my sanity was saved when I got home a few minutes earlier than normal. My family time at home had started, I had my girls and that was all I needed… well, apart from a few Friday night beers!

Day 118 – Sometimes you just have to ask for a little help

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Day 118 – Jul 13th

Okay, so todays photo isn’t the most exciting photo I’ve taken over the course of a 365 project, so why have I taken it?

The answer is simple… its a “before” photo! Yup, after trying to find the time to do something about this part of the back garden for four years, and clearly not doing a very good job about it, in just a few days that corner is not going to look like this any more.

Each summer I promise myself that I’m going to get on top of it, and conquer this corner, and each year I fail. I keep doing a bit here and a bit there and then telling myself that I just don’t have the time. 

So now we have enlisted the help of my sisters partner, whose trade is gardening/landscaping/fencing. He cleared this patch by lunchtime, and totally put me to shame. Still, it had to be done, and he did it. He’ll be back tomorrow to do more, and eventually, once we have slabs down, we can put some furniture up there and enjoy the sun that seems to stay in that corner most of the day and evening!

I clearly couldn’t do this on my own, but at least I can now look forward to relaxing with drinks in the garden, watching the sun go down!

Day 117 – run like the wind, walk like an arthritic old man!

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Day 117 – Jul 12th

Last nights gym session felt good, I got a bit of a sweat on doing a warm up time on the exercise bike, then took to the treadmill to push my running a bit, in the hope of being in a position to consider this years half marathon.

Plan A foiled by yet another injury. Finished my run, fine. Got showered and home, fine. Woke up this morning, could barely stand on my left foot, let alone walk! The day improved with some pain killers and a bit of stretching, but here I am at the end of the day, and still in pain! Hoping some rest in bed tonight will help. I did, however, spend the day hobbling around like I had broken glass in my shoe. It was a close call with giving work a miss today, but it at least got easier as the day went on.

So much for exercise being good for you, I sometimes wonder how I managed to do five half marathons and two Tough Mudders with numerous injuries temporarily putting me out of running so easily recently.

Came home to an empty house today, quite unusual, and managed to take a few minutes and enjoy the peace and quiet for a little while before I could hear the car pull up on the driveway again and the silence was broken. Suddenly two eager little girls came running into the living room looking for daddy. However daddy was not feeling the urge to jump out of the chair. It was my plan to spend as long as possible sat down resting my foot tonight, which I hate doing while the girls are up, as they deserve my attention, but I really had to rest this foot. We did spend a little time in the garden though, but it wasn’t long before both of these little ladies were shattered, Chloe who was overdue a nap and already whinging, was the first casualty of a busy day.

When there was only Olivia, before Chloe was born, it was quite easy to manage our day, doing our best to incorporate nap times and bed times, but now that there is two, it isn’t quite so easy. People often ask what changes the most when you have a second child… well, there is plenty! Time management is the biggest challenge. Chloe seems to have fallen into similar naps as Olivia did around the same age, but its not always easy to squeeze them in exactly when she wants them, as there seems to be a lot more fluctuations on the times she actually wants to go down, whereas you could almost set a clock by Olivia’s naps. Today was a day when Chloe could actually have done with two naps, but there just wasn’t a chance to get the second one in… and cue grumpy, clingy Chloe!

Even when she’s in a bit of a grump, she can still make us laugh, and always gives the best hugs!

Day 116 – and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down…

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Day 116 – Jul 11th

After a few weeks without rain, the garden lawn is starting to look a bit tired, and I’ve had enough of having to grab a watering can and water the flowers each evening, and then worrying about them if I forget to do it one evening. Well today started out damp, and apart from a couple of dry spells this morning, its pretty much rained all day since then.

As an adult owning a property with a garden, particularly one that you’re growing things in, its pretty much about the only time that anyone can get even remotely excited about rain. You may be cursing that your day out is ruined, or that you can’t hang the washing out to dry, but you can at least smile in the knowledge that your grass is getting a good water and the flower beds will love it. The simple fact is that this green and pleasant land of ours would not be quite so green without a bit of rain every now and again to keep it that way.

One of the little green shoots that had come from Olivia helping me to plant some seeds back in February was our sunflowers. They seemed to do very little for a number of weeks, and the shoots were no more than a few inches tall, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to have shot up, and this week have even begun to open up! That’ll keep the bees happy for a while, and now the garden will start to look even brighter!

With the weather being wet, I ditched the idea of cycling this morning in favour of the motorbike. Sure, I’m still exposed to the elements, but at least on the motorbike I am covered in waterproof clothing! Made up for it with a gym session this evening, but now have come home with pretty severe heel pain, leaving me limping about a bit, and I’m not even sure how I’ve done it! Only hoping a good nights sleep will fix things, and on that note… well, you don’t get a good nights sleep from tapping away on your laptop while sat on the sofa downstairs!